Two days of practice are in the books in Mobile, Alabama, and the Senior Bowl is giving us what we've wanted all along: a garden for takes.
The Detroit Lions hosted their second practice in the early slot Wednesday, and we were able to continue examining some of Day 1's standouts while checking back in on players who struggled — hoping our favorite film watches stood out in a bigger and better way; my wide receiver did.
Detroit's practice wasn't fast-paced or rife with content, but it did give us enough one-on-one matchups to measure these players against each other and come back with some takeaways.
I focused on the North’s offensive unit and highlighted nine prospects I thought did their job and more.
Best player: Jordan Love, Utah State
Jordan Love got a ton of buzz for his Day 1 performance. I didn't see the consistent accuracy or field processing that you would expect from a Round 1 player. But that's okay: Day 1 is hard on quarterbacks. They’re playing in a new system with new coaches throwing to new receivers. Oh, and there's a ton of pressure too.
Love settled in during Wednesday’s practice, however. He sailed one or two passes and had some questionable decisions reading the field, but was generally more accurate, brisk and decisive. He looks comfortable in his drops and throwing with rhythm in his feet, and I love his ability to modulate release speed, ball trajectory and velocity in short to intermediate windows. His underthrow to Denzel Mims illustrates, however, the remaining inconsistencies with deep ball placement.
Love did get better on Day 2 and looks to continue improving on Day 3 to prove that he takes to coaching and can learn quickly from his mistakes.
Flash reps: Shea Patterson, Michigan
Patterson was a hot mess on Day 1; Day 2 still had its rough spots which included some dropped snaps and sailed passes in rhythm. But Patterson has good release speed and body control on the move that leads to accurate balls when he's outside of the pocket and when he was more trusting in his rhythm. Patterson is fighting to be drafted this week, and the traits he showed today were enough for a third-string quarterback you try to develop.
Best player: Joshua Kelley, UCLA
For the second consecutive day of Senior Bowl practices, Joshua Kelley stands out among the North running backs. We get no tackling and few reps at full speed, so it's tricky to draw much from the performance of the backs. But Kelley is consistently in the correct hole at the correct time and has enough juice to get through the second level with good urgency and angles against closing linebackers. He was injured for a lot of the 2019 season after a successful 2018 season. If he's back to full health, he'll go higher than many expect.
Flash reps: Darius Anderson, TCU
The word for Darius Anderson is springy. He has such a great bounce to him when he drops those hips and plants his feet, and those explosive jump cuts allow him to knife through angles and attack the second level. Anderson also showed good long speed and ball-tracking on some downfield routes in the one-on-ones which is nice to see. Anderson was more involved with pass-catching in his senior season with TCU than he had been in his first three years combined and must develop a strong pass-catching profile in the NFL to contribute to a committee.
Best player: Denzel Mims, Baylor
There were a lot of wins on the sheet for Mims including the rep above. But we already knew that about Mims. He's a dominant catch point receiver despite the smaller hands and regularly makes acrobatic, concentration catches through contact that most receivers only dream about.
What he has shown is separation ability over the last few days, and it’s been better than many experienced after viewing his tape. Mims wins on downfield routes because he has a clean release at the line of scrimmage, explosive first steps to generate a downfield stack and an inherent knack for ball-tracking early maintaining leverage. He knows just the right speed to finish his route so that he can stay between the corner and the football.
During one-on-ones, I credited Mims with a win against every corner he faced, save for Essang Bassey, who he 100 percent committed blatant offensive pass interference against. So, if we tone down the physicality just a smidge, we'll be alright.
Flash reps: Chase Claypool, Notre Dame; K.J. Hill, Ohio State
Chase Claypool and K.J. Hill fall into the same bucket for very different reasons, in terms of how I feel about them. I don't want to spend more than a Day 3 pick on either, but I definitely want to spend that Day 3 selection on them. Claypool dominated one-on-ones in the short areas of the field where he has strong enough footwork and tremendous strength and size to win even on inaccurate balls, but he's unable to burst into catches and fails to open up the stride downfield to get underneath deep balls. Hill again separates all too easily with a free release off the line of scrimmage, but he doesn't have sufficient juice to really turn short targets into big yards after catch gains.
With all that said, both are consummate special-teamer players who are NFL-ready in terms of frame, technique and mentality. Depth contributors in Year 1 who I can rely on.
Best player: Jonah Jackson, Ohio State
Jonah Jackson is a tank and a half. One of the most fun players to watch in the one-on-one and drill sessions, Jackson regularly wrenched open gaps for his running backs across the course of the day; utilizing some excellent phone booth power and intentional footwork to generate and finish his angles. The biggest concern with Jackson at this stage is mobility as the Rutgers transfer doesn't work too well on the hoof. But today, his angles climbing into the second level were true, and he created rushing lanes on multiple combo blocks.
Jackson projects like a scheme-specific guy for sure, but Day 2 isn't out of the range of possibilities.
Flash reps: Ben Bredeson, Michigan
While I was a bit disappointed when I dove into Ben Bredeson’s film before this week's event, I came away impressed by his performance on Day 2. His calling card is consistency and control. He isn't a great athlete or a hugely powerful dude, but he relies on his technique, never panics and rarely ends up out of position. It may not be sexy, but it works well in this setting.
I like Bredeson best as depth at the NFL level, but the Michigan offensive line is rife with senior starters, and he was the one elected to the Senior Bowl over all others. Maybe the NFL is higher on him than I am.